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This "Discussion of the Week" is inspired by personal experience: Over the past 2-3 weeks, my IN box has been bombarded by small business owners realizing they need SEO/SEM help but not knowing where to start and, more specifically, how to find the right consultant/company to help with online marketing. So, what ONE TIP or piece of advice would you share with someone asking you "how do I find a good SEO/SEM consultant"? (Feel free to share more than one tip if you want, of course!)
Comments11 Comments  

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Avatar Moderator
from JulieJoyce 1378 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I think lots of people want to see examples of past work, which I do understand, but considering we have non-disclosures in place with our clients, it's impossible for us. Because of that, I do have other ways of selling our services, and the most useful one so far as been our willingness to try something and part ways if it doesn't work out. I'd ask a potential vendor about a trial contract/period. If they say no way and try to hold you to a big long contract without bending on the issue, that would be a red flag to me.




Avatar Moderator
from toddmintz 1378 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think that "online sentiment analysis" of an individual / firm is extremely important and underused by prospective clients.  Would you want to hire a search marketer that has very few Google mentions or one that isn't linked via social media to a large number of industry peers? What about the companies that have people complaining about them online? (e.g. http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=2bcdc7df2922e8cb&hl=en).

To speak to Julie's comment, most prospects don't know the industry enough to be able to properly evaluate past work and many oral recommendations (positive or negative) are given by people not knowledgeable enough to recommend...hence the necessity for online sentiment.



Avatar Moderator
from nickfb76 1378 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I would suggest talking to the SEO/SEM consultant about expectations.  If the consultant is promising you the world and top rankings within certain time frames I would run away.  If they explain the value of long tail keywords & geo targeted keywords then thats a step in the right direction.  Also, an emphasis on conversions instead or rankings or just traffic.

I too could rank you for  "Super neato SEO guy who likes bacon" within one week.  But what value would you get from that?



Avatar Moderator
from JulieJoyce 1378 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I'd hire Nick based on that if he changed it to girl and not guy and added veggie in front of bacon.

I agree with both Todd and Nick..I do think that there are SEOs out there who are quite good and aren't active online at all though. Some people are just not interested in interacting and having a high profile but it doesn't mean they aren't going to do a good job, depending on your needs of course.

I also have talked about how I can get a feel for people...there are a few prospects that I immediately know I do not want to work with. There are some that I immediately want to work for, for free. I imagine clients feel the same way about all of us.



Avatar Moderator
from Realicity 1378 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Does the SEO/SEM consultant track conversion, analyze and report on them, and then take action to improve the campaign based on results?  If they do, and can provide client references to attest to that, then that is a good start.

And I think Nick and I might have to start an SEO Arms Race for any keyword with SEO & Bacon in them:-P



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from crimsongirl 1378 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Hire whoever used the most Flash in their website.



Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1378 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I agree that there are a lot of great SEOs who aren't part of the social scene. We hired one such SEO when I was working at Marchex years ago. I kinda had my mind set on hiring a recognizable name/face, but the best candidate was someone I'd never heard of before. He ended up being a great add. Don't know where he is now, but I'm sure he's kicking butt for someone.

The flip side of this question is, if SEO firms are limited by NDAs and client privacy, how can we show our true mettle to convince prospects that we're the right consultant? In so many other industries, you can hire based on seeing previous results and getting direct referrals from current or past clients.



Avatar Moderator
from nickfb76 1377 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Matt - How do you feel about using your own website as a selling tool.  If you can rank your own site for "City + SEO" or something along the lines it something you can show to potential clients.  However, this idea would require you actually ranking for the keyword(s) before taking on clients which isn't always realistic.



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from BrentRangen 1377 Days ago #
Votes: 0

We have several clients who are great references for us. This has always been that was too.. for two years now. Some where short-term projects, but we did what we said and people are satisfied & willing to to help.

You can really derive a lot by a proposal though. Requesting a proposal should be a good starting point. Do they follow Google's TOS? are they building the quality of your site? are they adding authority from your domain? and what's the price? -- If I could not even see a domain that the SEO agency has promoted previously I would honestly pass. This day & age, it's simply too risky to hand off web site promotion to any random business.



Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1377 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Nick - I don't think showing off the keywords that an SEO company has ranked itself for should be a selling point, mainly because rankings (to me) are never the goal. I'd rather the SEO company be able to show how much money was made from SEO efforts.

@Brent - couldn't a proposal, though, just be a lot of smoke and mirrors?



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from VirtualVIP 1373 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I have to agree with nickfb76. Just reference your work on your own site. It gives you a chance to show how good you are, and avoids the non-disclosure issues (we have those, too). A sample of how we do that, here:

An Example of SEO Consulting As Promoted by The Answer Guy



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